Occupy Victoria tent protesters vow to stay until changes made

Diverse crowd shares discontent at demonstration through city streets

Star

Star

Occupy Victoria protesters who set up a tent city at Centennial Square say they will remain until evicted or the social and economic problems that led to the protest are solved.

There’s no chance police will be ordered to evict the protest campers, Mayor Dean Fortin said Monday .

“We don’t see any need at this time,” said Fortin who praises the Occupy Victoria movement and its international counterparts as “citizen participation and one of the emerging issues of our times.”

While the police are aware he supports the Occupy Victoria movement, Fortin said he has not told police how to treat the protesters because “it is totally inappropriate for the mayor to interfere with police operations.”

Fortin said “people have an urgent need to be involved in the events and process that shape their lives.”

Const. Mike Russell, Victoria police media spokesperson, said police actions are designed to “work with rather than against” the protesters, adding the  police have talked with the mayor and act accordingly.

Russell said no additional police manpower has been alloted to keeping an eye on the protest camp other than the “typical patrol” Centennial Square normally undergoes.

At least 17 tents occupied by about 30 protesters have been on the site since the Saturday launch of the Occupy Victoria protest that saw demonstrations by several hundred people at Centennial Square, on the B.C. legislature grounds, and a march through downtown Victoria by more than 1,000 people.

Occupy Victoria protesters said the mayor could easily have used his power to order police to disrupt two Occupy Victoria protests – the downtown protest by the recently founded People’s Assembly of Victoria and a similar demonstration by another group called We Are Change Victoria, on the B.C. legislature grounds earlier the same day and attended by about 300 people.

“The mayor being on side is huge,” said Anushka Nagji, 25, one of the People’s Assembly organizers and a University of Victoria law student who graduates in April. “He has a lot of power and was in a position to allow or not allow it to happen.”

She said she is “heartened” at the friendly police attitude towards the Occupy Victoria protesters.

Fellow organizer Rob Rao, 34, said Fortin could have called in police to evict the campers because of a city bylaw that says tents and other temporary structures put up in public parks can only stay in place between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and must then be dismantled.

Unlike the B.C. legislature grounds demonstration that had a letter of approval from the province, the people behind the Centennial Square protest and march did not have permits from the city and were technically illegal.

Rao said the overwhelming majority of people involved in Saturday’s demonstration were individuals who said they would not normally get involved in public protest but are increasingly upset at corporate and bank control of the economy that is crushing jobs, destroying social programs, and telling governments what to do.

Josh Steffler, spokesman for the We Are Change Victoria which is not tied to the People’s Assembly, said Fortin was correct in allowing Occupy Victoria to proceed without interference.

“It would have been easy for him to say, ‘No, they don’t have a permit (for Saturday’s protest and the tent city)” and tell the police, ‘Please remove them’.”

Even though the city has now shut down power outlets to Centennial Square, the protesters said it is just a minor inconvenience.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Sooke Fine Arts Show will be online again this year, showcasing unique artworks from Vancouver Island and B.C.’s coastal island artists from July 23 to Aug. 2. (File - Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke Fine Arts Show goes virtual for second year in a row

Art exhibition and show set for July 23 to Aug. 2

Dog owners walk along Fleming Beach on a sunny day (pre-COVID). (Black Press Media file photo)
Deadline nears for licensing your dog in Esquimalt

Pet owners have until Feb. 28 to renew, purchase or transfer licences for 2021

Ownership of SISȻENEM — also known as Halibut Island located east off Sidney Island — has transferred to W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council after The Land Conservancy of British Columbia (TLC) had purchased the island for $1.55 million. (The Land Conservancy/Submitted)
SISȻENEM (Halibut Island) transfers to W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council under historic agreement

The Land Conservancy purchased the 9.67-acre island for $1.55 million with help from unnamed donor

Landis Carmichael is the Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as the Emergency Services Award winner. (Photo courtesy Landis Carmichael)
29-year-old firefighter has spent almost half his life with Langford department

Landis Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Emergency Services Award

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

Site C will go ahead, one year later and $5.3 billion more, the NDP announced Feb 26. (BC Hydro image)
B.C. NDP announces Site C will go ahead with new $16B budget

Reviews recommend more oversight, beefed up foundation stability work

The BC Prosecution Service announced last year that it was appointing lawyer Marilyn Sandford as a special prosecutor to review the case, following media inquiries about disclosure issues linked to a pathologist involved in the matter. (Black Press Media files)
Possible miscarriage of justice in B.C. woman’s conviction in toddler drowning: prosecutor

Tammy Bouvette was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in 2013 to the lesser charge

A kid in elementary school wearing a face mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Metro Creative)
Union asks why an elementary school mask rule wouldn’t work in B.C. if it does elsewhere

B.C. education minister announced expansion of mask-wearing rules in middle, high school but not elementary students

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo school district chosen as Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Most Read